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Taxation and Excess Burden: A Life-Cycle Perspective

  • E. John Driffill
  • Harvey S. Rosen

A lifetime perspective is appropriate in assessing the welfare implications of government tax policies. Although a number of attempts have been made to ex- amine the excess burden of taxation in life-cycle models, these have tended to ignore the role of human capital accumulation and/or the leisure-income choice. In this paper, we do numerical simulations with a model that takes both of these phenomena into account. We find that under reasonable assumptions, the failure to take into account distortions of human capital decisions produces substantial underestimates of the excess burden of income taxation. In addition, allowing for the endogeneity of human capital increases the efficiency of a personal consumption tax relative to that of an equal yield income tax.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 0698.

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Date of creation: Jun 1981
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Publication status: published as Driffill, John E., and Harvey S. Rosen. "Taxation and Excess Burden: A Life-Cycle Persepective." International Economic Review, Vol. 24, No.3, (October 1983), pp. 735-749.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:0698
Note: PE
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  1. Alan S. Blinder & Yoram Weiss, 1975. "Human Capital and Labor Supply: A Synthesis," NBER Working Papers 0067, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Levhari, David & Weiss, Yoram, 1974. "The Effect of Risk on the Investment in Human Capital," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(6), pages 950-63, December.
  3. Harvey S. Rosen, 1978. "The Measurement of Excess Burden with Explicit Utility Functions," NBER Chapters, in: Research in Taxation, pages 121-135 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Atkinson, A. B. & Stiglitz, J. E., 1976. "The design of tax structure: Direct versus indirect taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1-2), pages 55-75.
  5. Alan J. Auerbach & Harvey S. Rosen, 1980. "Will the Real Excess Burden Please Stand Up? (Or, Seven Measures in Search of a Concept)," NBER Working Papers 0495, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Ryder, Harl E & Stafford, Frank P & Stephan, Paula E, 1976. "Labor, Leisure and Training over the Life Cycle," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 17(3), pages 651-74, October.
  7. Lawrence H. Summers, 1978. "Tax Policy in a Life Cycle Model," NBER Working Papers 0302, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Kesselman, Jonathan R., 1976. "Tax effects on job search, training, and work effort," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 255-272, October.
  9. Arnold Harberger, 1964. "Taxation, Resource Allocation, and Welfare," NBER Chapters, in: The Role of Direct and Indirect Taxes in the Federal Reserve System, pages 25-80 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Haley, William J, 1976. "Estimation of the Earnings Profile from Optimal Human Capital Accumulation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 44(6), pages 1223-38, November.
  11. Auerbach, Alan J., 1979. "A brief note on a non-existent theorem about the optimality of uniform taxation," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 3(1), pages 49-52.
  12. Levhari, David & Sheshinski, Eytan, 1972. "Lifetime Excess Burden of a Tax," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(1), pages 139-47, Jan.-Feb..
  13. Brown, Charles, 1976. "A Model of Optimal Human-Capital Accumulation and the Wages of Young High School Graduates," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(2), pages 299-316, April.
  14. Rosen, Sherwin, 1976. "A Theory of Life Earnings," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(4), pages S45-67, August.
  15. Diamond, P. A. & McFadden, D. L., 1974. "Some uses of the expenditure function in public finance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(1), pages 3-21, February.
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